The Panthers have suffered a controversial loss to the Sharks, going down 24-20 at Remondis Stadium.
It was a game riddled with errors and handling mistakes, and where very few consecutive sets of six were completed. Three Penrith tries were disallowed over the course of the 80 minutes, one of which could have gone either way.
The Panthers were keen to get their first back to back win for the year, and their first away win, and young Tyrone Peachey was excited to run out against his old club. For the Sharks, Beau Ryan and Anthony Tupou were late inclusions in their side, and we got word just before kickoff that Andrew Fifita had signed a new 4 year deal with the club.
Penrith opened the scoring in the 8th minute thanks to a beautiful cross-field kick from Peter Wallace that went up high and over to the left of the field where a group of Panthers and Sharks players were waiting. They all jumped for it but missed, and when the ball hit the ground Josh Mansour picked it up, turned on his heel and dived over the line. Jamie Soward took the tough sideline conversion and sent the ball straight through the uprights, giving Penrith a 6-0 lead.
The home side hit back in the 16th minute after a dropped ball from the Panthers gave them possession. Cronulla got the ball up their end and five-eighth Todd Carney found a hole in our back line and dived through. The kick bounced off the posts though so the score went to 6-4.
But the Panthers weren’t about to let them get away with that one and we soon added another 4 points to our total. It came courtesy of some very quick ball work from Wallace who sent a pass to his right, and was flicked out to Matt Moylan, who batted it over everyone’s heads to Dave Simmons who sprinted up the sideline and dived over to score. Soward’s boot was on target again and Penrith extended their lead to 12-4.
The next 10 minutes of play was riddled with mistakes and handling errors from both sides and neither team made much ground with the ball. Then with three minutes until half time the Sharks crossed for their second try. James Segeyaro picked up a grubber kick within Cronulla’s 10m line, but it was reefed out of his hands a second later in a legal strip, and #4 Ricky Leutele picked up the loose ball and dived over the line to score. The conversion was on target this time, and the score went to 12-10.
HALF TIME: 12-10 Panthers
In the first 10 minutes of this half, there were more errors from both teams then there were plays of the ball. In the 54th minute the Panthers copped a penalty and the Sharks opted to kick for two to level the score. From the 40m line, the ball was sent through the uprights and it was 12-12.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Cronulla sent the ball over the dead ball line, forcing a goal line drop out and handing possession back to Panthers. We almost had our next try when Josh Mansour crossed in the corner off a Peter Wallace kick on the 6th, but the decision went up to the video ref who ruled a knock on from the play before, and it was disallowed.
We had another close call soon after that when Dave Simmons took a kick and caught it right on the sideline before batting it back to Dean Whare who tapped the ball down over the line. But the ref decided Simmons had stepped out of the field of play and it was disallowed.
But within minutes we regained the lead thanks to a penalty awarded on the 40m line. Soward took the kick and was bang on target, taking the score to 14-12 with 15 minutes remaining.
With 12 minutes on the clock the Sharks struck again with another try, when fullback Michael Gordon chased a kick on the 6th and beat Matt Moylan to the ball a few metres out from their line, before diving over to score. The kick from in front took the score to 18-14.
As the clock kicked down, the Panthers were desperate for another shot at their line, and it came courtesy of a beautiful pass from Wallace to Dean Whare, who broke through a tackle and took off down the park before offloading back to Wallace on his inside, who sprinted 40m to score behind the posts! Soward kicked and gave Penrith a 2 point lead with just over 5 minutes to go.
But Cronulla wasn’t done and with just over 3 minutes remaining, Jeff Robson followed in the footsteps of Michael Gordon and chased down a kick, plucking it out of the air and running over the line to score. With the conversion, the score went to 24-20.
The Panthers almost came back with the try of the day when Dean Whare got the ball off Wallace and barged his way over the line to score. But the ref called obstruction on one of our other players, and it was disallowed.
FULL TIME: 24-20 Sharks